Welcome to the Dickerson Lab: Resting state functional connectivity of the brain's large-scale memory networks
In the last 10 years, but particularly in the last 5 years, a new imaging technology has been developed that uses functional MRI scanning while participants are resting quietly in the scanner to measure the spontaneous activity of brain regions and their functional "connectivity." It is thought that these measures of functional connectivity between different brain structures reflect their participation in a network which may subserve one major ability (e.g., the 'dorsal attention' network) but which usually subserves multiple related abilities.
Since about 2004, investigators around the world have begun reporting abnormalities in the functional connectivity of various networks as part of neuropsychiatric disorders, such as Alzheimer's disease or schizophrenia. More recently, investigators have begun finding that within a population of ostensibly normal individuals the strength of connectivity within a given circuit relates to behavior of one form or another thought to be subserved by the network.
We recently reported that, in a group of healthy young adults, the strength of connectivity between the two hippocampi predicts how well people will perform on a memory task. Details are described in Liang Wang's paper in the journal Hippocampus. We are now following up on this work with a variety of experiments to investigate the stability of these findings over time (is this a "trait" that differs between individuals or something that may vary over time within an individual "state"?), their generalizability to other regions of the large-scale memory network or to other networks and abilities, and how they are affected by aging and illness.